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Jan 2015

INFJ explained

By: admin | Tags: myers-briggs, INFJ | Comments: 0

Why are we talking about Myers-Briggs again? Because personality type can inform career performance and goals, which I believe is relevant for a website dedicated to sharing my oeuvre. 

INFJ is an abbreviation for Introversion, iNtution, Feeling, and Judging. It is the rarest of the 16 MBTI personality types as it accounts for an estimated 2% of the population (the science). We love to be there for others, we see things no one else sees, and we think A LOT about everything. If you think you can pinpoint who we are because Myer’s Briggs did, then think again because we share the same personalities as Mahatma Gandhi and Adolf Hitler. We are intricate, deeply woven, mysterious, highly complex, and often puzzling, even to ourselves. In other words, good luck figuring us out - not even we can.

The Wikka Wikka Wiki: 

The MBTI assessment was developed from the work of prominent psychiatrist Carl Jung in his book Psychological Types. Jung proposed a psychological typology based on the theories of cognitive functions that he developed through his clinical observations.

From Jung's work, others developed psychological typologies. Jungian personality assessments include the MBTI instrument, developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, and the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, developed by David Keirsey. Keirsey referred to the INFJs as Counselors, one of the four types belonging to the temperament he called the Idealists

We’re quiet people pleasers, and despite the desire to be liked, we won’t be flashy to impress you. Our minds mean a lot to us and we want them to mean a lot to you to. Trust and appreciate us, and we will be loyal to the end (much like man's best friend).  We live in a word of inferences, gut feelings, and subtext; and seek true meaning to everything. We think we know what you really meant even if you don’t. Though we are very independent, INFJs are intensely interested in the well-being of others; we want to take care of you so please let us! INFJs prefer one-on-one relationships to large groups. 

Sensitive and complex, we are adept at understanding complicated issues and driven to resolve differences in a cooperative and creative manner. Problems are seen as opportunities to frolick in the smorgasbord of possibilities, so don't rain on our parade with negative thinking. Confrontation freaks me the hell out, and being yelled at makes me die inside a little. INFJs take things personally, and crave order and comfort. We want to change the world from behind the scenes.

INFJs have a rich, vivid inner life that we may be reluctant to share with those around us. If I let you in, then you know I have accepted you into my tight-knit tribe. Nevertheless, we are congenial in our interactions and perceptive of the emotions of others. However, we are guarded in expressing our own feelings, especially to new people, and tend to establish close relationships slowly. We tend to be easily hurt, though we may not reveal it. INFJs may "silently withdraw as a way of setting limits" rather than expressing our wounded feelings—a behavior that may leave others confused and upset. I know I can come across as guarded and strong, but I'm actually quite vulnerable and will only show my soft underbelly to those I truly trust. Knowing that I can be easily hurt, I often try to dismiss my feelings with a joke, before letting that part of me detach from the uncomfortable emotion. I have to work hard to not compartmentalize myself. So if I joke about something upsetting me, then there is more than a grain of truth in it. If you make the effort to soothe my bruises, it is appreciated, and will save me from overanalyzing the situation like a broken record. This will also allow me to increase my trust in you, which will make me more apt to share my internal world with you. 

For a quick overview of functions, see "Do What You Are."

Because our dominant function is Introverted iNtuition, we may display the following weaknesses:

  • May be unaware (and sometimes uncaring) of how they come across to others
  • May quickly dismiss input from others without really considering it
  • May apply their judgment more often towards others, rather than towards themselves
  • With their ability to see an issue from many sides, they may always find others at fault for any problems in their lives
  • May have unrealistic and/or unreasonable expectations of others
  • May be intolerant of weaknesses in others
  • May believe that they're always right
  • May be obsessive and passionate about details that may be unimportant to the big picture
  • May be cuttingly derisive and sarcastic towards others
  • May be tense, wound up, have high blood pressure and find it difficult to relax
  • May hold grudges, and have difficulty forgiving people
  • May be wishy-washy and unsure how to act in situations that require quick decision making
  • May have difficulty communicating their thoughts and feelings to others
  • May see so many tangents everywhere that they can't stay focused on the bottom line or the big picture

Most of the problems described above are a result of Introverted iNtuition overtaking the INFJ's personality to the point that all of the other functions become slaves to Introverted iNtuition. A healthy personality needs to have a good balance between its dominant and auxiliary functions. For an INFJ, the dominant Introverted iNtuition needs to be well-supported by the auxiliary Extraverted Feeling function. If Extraverted Feeling exists only to support the desires of Introverted iNtuition, then neither function is being used to its potential.

Introverted iNtuition is a personality function that constantly gathers information, and sees everything from many different perspectives. As the dominant player in a personality, it has the effect of constantly bombarding the psyche with new information to consider. Introverted iNtuition is sort of like a framework for understanding that exists in the mind. As something is perceived, it is melded into the existing intuitive framework. If an entirely new piece of information is perceived by the Introverted iNtuitive, that person must redefine their entire framework of reference. So, Introverted iNtuitives are constantly taking in information about the world that needs to be processed in a relatively lengthy manner in order to be understood. That presents quite a challenge to the INFJ. It's not unusual for an INFJ to feel overwhelmed with all of the things that he or she needs to consider in order to fully understand an idea or situation.

When Introverted iNtuition dominates the INFJ such that the other functions cannot serve their own purposes, we find the INFJ cutting off information that it needs to consider. If the psyche is presented with information that looks anything like something that Introverted iNtuition has processed in the past, it uses Extraverted Feeling to quickly reject that information. The psyche uses Extraverted Feeling to reject the ideas, rather than taking the information into its intuitive framework, and therefore potentially causing that framework to be reshaped and redefined.

Using Extraverted Feeling in this manner may effectively serve the immediate needs of Introverted iNtuition, but it is not ideal. It causes the INFJ to not consider information that may be useful or criticial in developing a real understanding of an issue. It may cause the INFJ to come off as too strongly opinionated or snobbish to others.

The better use of Extraverted Feeling for an INFJ would be to use it to assess the INFJ's rich insights and weigh them against the external world. When the INFJ personality uses Extraverted Feeling to cut off incoming information, rather than to judge internal intuitions, it is effectively cheating itself. It's like getting the answers to a test without having to really understand the questions. It's easier to get the answer right away, rather than to have to figure everything out. For the INFJ, who has a tremendous amount of information and "studying" that needs to be done, it's very tempting to take shortcuts. Most INFJs will do this to some extent. The real problems occur when an INFJ personality has become so imbalanced that its owner is extremely self-important and rarely consider anyone else's opinions or ideas.

Overcoming these weaknesses

In my experience INFJers need to take the time to route information through their intuition in order to avoid letting judgment dismiss ideas prematurely. Judgement should be used to challenge our own ideas, rather than try to judge ideas that we don't yet understand. We have to let ideas marinate in our intution in order to gain understanding. This allows us to use this new information to rebuild our global framework of understanding - like refreshing a browser to see our HTML changes take effect. INFJs need to focus on using their judgment not to dismiss ideas, but rather to support their intuitive framework. 

A key ingredient to this is maturation and being concerned with personal growth. If we pay close attention to the subject of our judgments, and our motivation for making judgments, then we can position ourselves to gain the most from the world around us. Too often, an INFJ will judge something without properly understanding it, and with the intention of dismissing it. Seek first to understand, then to judge.

Ten Rules to Live By to Achieve INFJ Success

  1. Feed Your Strengths! Do things that allow your brilliant intuition and service-oriented manner to flourish.
  2. Face Your Weaknesses! See your weaknesses for what they are, and seek to overcome them. Especially, strive to use your judgment against your internal ideas and intuitions, rather than as a means of disregarding other people's ideas.
  3. Talk Through Your Thoughts. You need to step through your intuitions in order to put them into perspective. Give yourself time to do this, and take advantage of discussing ideas with others. You'll find externalizing your internal intuitions to be a valuable exercise.
  4. Take in Everything. Don't dismiss ideas prematurely because you don't respect the person generating the ideas, or because you think you already know it all. After all, everybody has something to offer, and nobody knows everything. Steven Covey says it so well when he says: "Seek first to understand, and then to be understood."
  5. When You Get Angry, You Lose. Your passion and intensity are strong assets, but can be very harmful if you allow yourself to fall into the "Anger Trap". Remember that Anger is destructive to your personal relationships. Work through your anger before you impress it upon others, or you will likely find yourself alone. Disagreements and disappointments can only be handled effectively in a non-personal and dispassionate manner.
  6. Keep Your Eye on the Big Picture Watch out for your tendency to become obsessed with details. If you find yourself feeling very, very strongly about a small detail, take a big step back and make sure that you can still see the goal. You're not going to get there if you get mired in the details.
  7. Be Accountable for Yourself. Don't blame the problems in your life on other people. Look inwardly for solutions. No one has more control over your life than you have.
  8. Be Humble. Judge yourself at least as harshly as you judge others.
  9. Assume the Best. Don't distress yourself and others by dwelling on the dark side of everything. Just as there is a positive charge for every negative charge, there is a light side to every dark side. Remember that positive situations are created by positive attitudes. Expect the best, and the best will come forward.
  10. Relax! Do yourself a favor and learn how to effectively unwind. Get exercise and restful sleep. Take vacations. Engage in relaxing activities. Take care of yourself and your loved ones by learning to let go of your passion and intensity for a respite.

(Ten Rules Source: personalitypage.com)

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